Editor’s note: The following article is the final piece of a three-part series showcasing the people who cross paths with the services, programs, and supports facilitated by the seniors’ centres in the area. This week, the Winchester Press met with a terminally ill client who has been living at the Millview Apartments in Winchester for nearly one year.
WINCHESTER – When you’ve been diagnosed with terminal cancer, the last place you want to be is alone.
For 72-year-old Millie Marrs, her decision to move into the Millview Apartments last year was based on her need to be closer to people during her sickest days.
Not only is she situated a few hundred metres away from the Carefor/Nor-Dun Seniors’ Support Centre, she is also located within minutes of Winchester District Memorial Hospital.
“At the Millview, people are watching out for you,” said Marrs, who was diagnosed with cancer three years ago, and has now reached the terminal stage. “When you’re as sick as I am, you need to be around people as much as possible. You need to talk, and you need to make friends. When you’re alone and sick, it brings you down.”
Marrs’ husband passed away in 2013, and since then, her health has declined rapidly. With no relatives living nearby, it has been a struggle to maintain her positive frame of mind. However, with the help of seniors’ services provided in the community, she has been able to face each day with renewed strength.
Marrs regularly attends Dundas County Hospice’s day program in Williamsburg, where seniors gather to participate in a variety of activities – sometimes they go on day trips, make crafts, or have a picnic.
“I love the day program – it gives me a better frame of mind,” said Marrs. “I’m a people person and I need to create connections to heal me a little bit…just because you’re extremely sick doesn’t mean you’re not still a person who needs to socialize.”
The Carefor/Nor-Dun also provides the transportation to and from the program, as well as to Marrs’ regular appointments at the local hospital, or for chemotherapy in Ottawa.
“I wouldn’t get anywhere without a driver,” said Marrs. “The seniors’ centre has been amazing at co-ordinating so many parts of my life that I’m not able to anymore.”
According to Marrs, Carefor/Nor-Dun’s team leader Caroline Rooney also played a huge role in helping her get accepted into the Millview Apartments, as well as finding furniture for her to fill the place with. A nurse from the centre even donated a couch for Marrs to use.
“If I would’ve done that on my own, I probably would’ve waited a lot longer to get into a place that suited my illness,” said Marrs.
Because of her sensitive stomach, Marrs also has special restrictions when it comes to her diet, and the local Meals on Wheels program has been able to accommodate her. She is provided with hot, homemade meals every day that she needs it.
“The meals are tasty, and I love being able to chat with the volunteers when they drop off the food,” said Marrs. “People are so generous in this community. For a small town, the services are amazing.”
Marrs also said that being located so close to the Carefor/Nor-Dun centre has meant her having access to a foot care specialist, euchre with other seniors, and exercise classes. Staff members also book her appointments, and are a great resource for her to get to where she needs to go.
“Having all these services close to home has meant that I can live as well as I can,” Marrs added. “Being with others helps me forget about my illness – at least for a little while.”
On Thurs., Oct. 12 from 9 am to 1 pm, seniors and their families can come out to Matilda Hall for Dundas County Wellness 50+ Day, where local organizations will gather to spread the word about the various programs and services offered in the area for those over the age of 50.
There will be vendors set up, as well as a multitude of interactive presentations on topics like funeral planning, the disability tax credit, chronic disease management, retirement planning, and more.
The free event will also offer a complementary lunch for the first 200 people through the doors, and is sponsored by the J.W. MacIntosh Seniors Support Centre/WNPHC, Carefor/Non-Dun Seniors’ Support Centre, Chesterville’s Garden Villa, the Chartwell Hartford Retirement Residence, Eastern Ontario Financial Services, SD&SG MP Guy Lauzon’s office, and SD&SG MPP Jim McDonell’s office.